This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The following letter was actually received at the Post Office, Fishkill Landing, N. Y., the past summer.
Middletown Point, N. J. August 30, 1858. Andrew J. Downing, Esq., - Dear Sir. - If it is not trespassing too much upon your kindness you will confer a great favor by forwarding two of your autographs, as a friend and myself are collecting autographs of distinguished persons, and would be much pleased to have yours grace the number. With respect, I remain yours, etc.
We hope not be offensive if we remind this toady of knowledge, that the pursuit he is engaged in is one of utter folly, when it is not accompanied by information and good sense; it might serve him the same useful purpose to collect horse-shoe nails, or as a numbscull once did in England, make a complete volume of turnpike tickets!
The French peasants, it was said, voted for their model emperor under an impression that he was the "little corporal," still alive, and the next we hear from the fountain head, will be advertised letters for General Washington, Presidents Jefferson, Madison, etc, requesting their autographs for a collection of " distinguished persons." The only excuse we can make for this kind of nonsense is, that it is undertaken, as we believe it sometimes is, by schoolboys; but even then they ought to be well castigated when they do it so ignorantly. What pleasure or food for the mind can a "collection ." made in this way be to the possessor? Just about the same as the geological collection, every item of which was labelled by its young lady owner, "N. K," and when asked what that meant, she replied with astonishment, "Why, Natural Kuriosity, to be sure".
Successful canvassers frequently remit nobly; Mr. John King, of Dubuque, Iowa, sends $20 for ten new subscribers, taking back numbers, and says this is the result of " one hour's exertion." He also says, he has raised about two acres of very fine Catawba grapes, the present year, excelling the Cincinnati grapes. " We are going into business quite extensively. The lead mining region seems well, adapted to the raising of this delicious, healthy, and beautiful fruit".